“Ann! Ann!” Glancing around, Ann spotted the haggard-looking old woman who was gaining on her at frightening speed. Hair flying in the wind, pretty, young Ann frantically urged her horse faster and faster through the winding mountain trails. She finally reached the safety and comfort of her family, never learning the identity of her terrifying pursuer.
Decades ago, I enjoyed this haunting episode of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. From the series that always ended with a twist and a lesson, this particular story made a lasting impression on me. Maybe it was because the lead character and I share a name.
Ann was 19 years-old and about to make a major life decision, one that for all appearances was the right one, but that would eventually cause great heartache.
The twist was that the “old” woman she encountered while out riding was herself… her 40 year-old self, desperately attempting to alter the course of her own history. With no future to speak of, she was doomed to spend the remainder of her days mourning the mistakes of her youth and vainly trying to turn back time.
As for the lesson, the older Ann knew she made a mistake, but hadn’t learned from it, never figured out how to focus on what was ahead of her rather than what was behind her. She simply wanted a do-over, a chance to go back and change her course altogether. The younger Ann was playing “hear no evil.”
Forty year-old Ann would have been better served had she taken the reins and rode off in an entirely new direction rather than treading the same old path to nowhere. Had she learned from her previous errors and determined to move forward, she could have discovered strengths and talents she never knew she possessed. Alas, she is doomed to languish in a sea of regret.
If I could give some advice to my 19 year-old self, what would it be? Would I… could I save myself from the youthful mistakes I made? Would I have even listened?